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Want to Write a Book This Year? These Tools Can Help

wired.com – Monday January 18, 2021

2020 WAS NOT the year I wrote my first book—but it was the year I started thinking about it. And in typical freelance writer fashion, I decided to take advantage of my position and get some advice on how to go about it from people much more accomplished than me under the guise of researching this article. Here’s what I managed to learn.

A Way to Take Notes

Apparently books don’t spring fully formed from the ether. You kind of have to work on them, brainstorming different ideas, doing research, and taking notes before you can really get started. News to me, but oh well.

Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project and Hyperfocus, and all-around productivity guru, is obsessive about taking notes for his books. He has legal pads stashed around his home, carries a small notepad when he walks around town, and even has a waterproof notepad in his shower. If he can’t commit his thoughts to paper, he uses Simplenote.

Epic fantasy writer Brian McClellan, author of The Powder Mage series, is a little less over-the-top about note-taking, but he also prefers the paper approach and carries a notepad with him—or at least tries to. Whenever he leaves it in his car, he “whips out” his smartphone and uses whatever notes app came preinstalled.

Both writers stressed that what tool you use for taking notes doesn’t matter as much as the act of doing it. Notes can be anything from a cool word or an idea for a magic system to transcribed conversations or annotated historical documents. But, whatever form they take, they’re likely to be the base of your book.

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JK Rowling’s drama with the man who discovered her is one of many rows writers have had with their agents

inews.co.uk – Wednesday January 13, 2021

When authors become successful, they usually spend a good deal of their launch-party speech thanking their literary agent for believing in them when they were starting out and for finding them a publisher, and listing them high on their novel’s page of acknowledgments.

The agent’s role as a writer’s champion and negotiator can often result in close relationships that last years – but also intense disputes when an author moves on.

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How to start writing in 2021 – tips from those who do it themselves

metro.co.uk – Thursday January 7, 2021

So, you want to start writing in 2021? Perhaps it’s always been your dream to write a novel and leave a permanent literary mark on the world? Or maybe you’re simply looking for a new hobby to try in 2021 and this January lockdown seems like an ideal time to start. You might have been putting it off for a while because you’re simply clueless on how to go about writing a novel, non-fiction or short stories – or it could be the idea of starting that you’re finding overwhelming. Whatever your situation, there are some simple tips to keep in mind to get you on your way. We’ve asked those who have written their own books – both fiction and non-fiction – to give shed light on how to get started and the important things to bear in mind. Here’s what three authors had to say…

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The Writer’s Desk: Off-beat advice to improve your writing

myedmondsnews.com – Thursday January 7, 2021

Happy New Year. Hopefully you’ve adjusted to the new normal, found your rhythm, and are able to write again. Below are some uncommon tips I use when the words won’t flow.

Look for ideas on Post Secrets

In order for a story to captivate your audience the stakes must be high. Everyone has secrets, and you’ll find plenty of high-stake ideas from other people’s secrets. On PostSecret, people anonymously mail-in their written confessions on a postcard, and selected secrets are posted on the web page. Many of the secrets shared are heartbreaking, yet also demonstrate resilience. For example, “I am so poor that when I’m driving, I actually look for places that would be good to live in if I ever became homeless. I have chosen six different spots.” Other great sources for ideas are Humans of New YorkStory Corps, and Subway Therapy. All of these projects have books associated with them.

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How I write: Ben Sanders says mornings are a slog but by midday he finds some rhythm

stuff.co.nz – Wednesday January 6, 2021

Auckland-based Ben Sanders, author of American Blood and his latest The Devils You Know, shares his writing experiences.

What's your writing routine?

Writing time is nine to five, Wednesday to Friday. I always begin with a walk or some kind of exercise for about an hour. It’s like panning for gold in your brain: the stuff usable for fiction gets sifted out from the other leaden junk, and usually by the time I sit down to write I have a couple of little nuggets. Mornings are a slog: all backspace. But by midday I’ll find some rhythm.

And where do you write?

We have a home office, heavily fortified against procrastination.

Can you share a piece of good advice you've received about writing?

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‘This is the year I’ll write my novel’: new year’s resolutions and the creative mind

irishtimes.com – Wednesday January 6, 2021

New years presents a fresh slate. The distractions of Christmas have passed, and the promise of longer days lies ahead. It won’t be long before we awake to sunlight creeping in under the curtains.

We set our New Year’s resolutions: we’ll write that novel, we’ll get numerous stories or poems submitted, or we’ll do that creative writing course. We make action lists. We set daily, weekly and monthly targets. We plan to give up each of our distractions, be they television, alcohol or social media. This year, we say to ourselves, writing will be the central focus of our lives.

The problem is, of course, that these promising goals become burdensome. Inevitably, life gets in the way and we get distracted. We miss the targets. Some months later, when we read over our beautiful list of resolutions, it no longer fills us with joy. Instead it has transformed into an emotional “stick” with which we hit ourselves.

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Zoom Book Tours: 5 Authors on Publishing in a Pandemic

wired.com – Friday January 1, 2021

WRITING A BOOK is a lonely pursuit, one that can take years of solitary work. Selling a book is another story. Authors give talks in cramped storefronts, schmooze at luncheons, and learn to casually discuss their belabored creative project as commercial content. The publicity circuit can be dispiriting, sleazy, and exhausting. It can also be exhilarating, liberating, and fun—a chance for people who spend a lot of time alone with their thoughts to feel like someone’s heard them. This year, releasing a book into the world became another task largely undertaken solo, at home, staring at a screen. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the publishing industry to reimagine its process for convincing people to buy its latest offerings. Even the industry’s fanciest nights, like the National Book Awards gala, took place as digital events, with participants glammed up and sitting at home.

WIRED asked the writers behind five of our favorite 2020 tomes to tell us what it was like to release a book during quarantine. Here’s what they said.

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Why this forgotten punctuation mark should be revived

fastcompany.com – Thursday December 24, 2020

The first writing systems were continuous streams of type. Punctuation did not appear until the third century BC, when Greek librarian Aristophanes introduced the period to signal pauses while reading aloud. In the eighth century, English scholar Alcuin of York introduced the question mark to signal uncertainty. In the 14th century, Florentine leader Coluccio Salutati introduced the exclamation mark to signal intensity. Since then, punctuation has played a larger role than we ever could have thought—we have chosen one of these three marks to end every sentence since.

Jump forward to 1962, when New York ad executive Martin Speckter spotted a new typographic trend. Ads were asking excited, exclamatory questions, using “?!” to end the sentences. The cumbersome pairing and wasted space irritated him.

As the editor of the magazine Type Talks, he was in a position to suggest a solution. He wrote an article proposing a new end mark: the interrobang. Its name combined interro for interrogate and bang—printers’ slang for the exclamation mark. Its design combined the question mark and exclamation mark.

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Will the PRH–S&S Combination Be Too Big?

publishersweekly.com – Sunday December 13, 2020

It seemed impossible that the acquisition of Simon & Schuster by Penguin Random House the day before Thanksgiving could be overshadowed by a bigger industry event, but that is what happened when book publishing’s long-running trade show and convention, most recently known as BookExpo, was canceled. As the buzz about the end of BookExpo has cooled down, industry members continue to digest the news of PRH’s pending purchase of S&S, the nation’s largest and third-largest trade book publishers, respectively.

When the acquisition was announced, the Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, and the Association of American Literary Agents (formerly the AAR) all issued statements that were critical of the deal. While each organization had a particular take, all shared one thing in common: they were concerned about the increasing consolidation within trade publishing.

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Sign on the Dotted Line

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Saturday December 12, 2020

I just sign blank contracts for books and whatever strikes me as a good idea is what I write about.
~ Roger Zelazny

Contracts seem daunting because the language they are written in is arcane and the contract terms are ones you’ll have to live with, probably a while beyond the life of the book. In this case, fear is a good thing. We should regard the contract with a certain amount of trepidation and not simply sign because we’re drooling with eagerness to be published.

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